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How Does an Automatic Sprinkler System Work?

Sprinklers are essential in keeping everyone in your household or commercial property safe. Fires are incredibly dangerous and spread quickly; that’s why they need to be stopped and extinguished efficiently in order to keep everyone safe. Automatic fire sprinkler systems are specially designed to put out fires without setting off all the sprinklers in your property, keeping the fire and the damage it causes contained. Activated by the amount of heat the fire produces, an automatic sprinkler system is an essential component to have in the event of a fire, keeping everyone in the building as safe as possible.

Most people know the basics of fire safety, but many commercial and domestic properties don’t have automatic sprinkler system heads fitted. Some think that smoke alarms and fire extinguishers may be enough, but fire detection may be delayed in these processes. Concealed residential sprinklers and automatic systems are designed to be triggered very early in the development of a fire. This ensures that a fire is extinguished with a minimum quantity of water:- frangible bulbs in the sprinkler heads themselves expand and burst, allowing water to be released. Read our latest article below to find out more about automatic sprinkler systems.

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Automatic fire sprinklers: The Basics

Automatic fire sprinklers contain a network of pipes filled with water which commences at your main water supply pipeline or storage system and leads to strategically placed fire sprinklers installed on your ceiling. The sprinklers will discharge water when they detect heat from the fire and will continue until the flames are extinguished. 

An important thing to remember is that not all sprinklers will be activated at one time; automatic sprinkler systems are designed to operate in one particular area where the heat is detected, saving your space from being ruined by excess water. It’s a common myth that you have to choose between fire damage and water damage when you opt for sprinklers; automatic sprinklers can contain the damage done by the fire and water, making them the perfect choice for commercial and domestic properties.

You don’t need to worry about burning your toast and setting off the sprinklers. Automatic sprinklers are a fire protection system that are only triggered around temperatures between 54 and 74 Celsius. They have truly revolutionised our approaches to fire safety, as we no longer have to rely on a smoke alarm to inform us that there is a fire nearby. Smoke alarms can only do so much, as once you have been notified of the fire, you have to search for the source and work to put it out. Sprinklers do the job for you, working as efficiently as possible to extinguish the flames.

There are two main types of automatic sprinkler systems: wet pipe and dry pipe. Wet pipe sprinkler systems are always installed in domestic and residential properties and a majority of the pipework utilises flame-proof plastic commercial properties however utilises steel pipework. When activated, the pressurised water within the pipes is released, providing a faster reaction time than any other sprinkler system. Despite being a popular, cost-effective choice, they aren’t suitable for buildings where the pipes can freeze; this is where dry pipes come in.

Dry pipes are filled with compressed air rather than water. When activated, the air is evacuated making way for the water. They’re slower to react than wet pipe systems, and can have delays lasting up to a minute. As compensation, they release more pressurised water, which requires larger pipes. Pre-action systems are similar to dry pipes, but they require the detection of smoke as well as heat to activate.

Certain building regulations may require automatic sprinkler systems to be fitted, which you must check, especially if you own a commercial property.

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Commercial Properties

A commercial property is a building intended to generate profit from businesses or rental income. This can include a range of purposes, from offices to rented apartments. The Government requires all buildings to meet the appropriate standards as stated in the Building Regulations. However, there are no requirement for sprinkler systems to be installed if there are other points of escape. In buildings taller than 30 meters, sprinklers have been a legal requirement since 2007.

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) advises all owners and landlords of commercial properties to have automatic fire sprinkler systems fitted in their properties, as it is the “most effective way of protecting their businesses from the devastating effects of fire.” They believe that, despite the regulations, all commercial properties should protect their businesses and themselves from the damage the fire can bring.


Domestic Properties

A domestic or residential property is your own private dwelling, such as your home or apartment. All homes are fitted with a smoke alarm, but sprinklers aren’t a necessity unless you live in a flat higher than 11 meters. If you require ultimate protection from fire, then automatic sprinkler systems are the best choice. If you do opt to have them installed, they must be designed to ensure that at least two sprinkler heads can be fed water for 10 – 30 minutes depending on risk. 

Sprinklers can also be fitted in residential properties, such as nursing homes and care homes. These properties, if fitted with sprinkler systems, must be designed to ensure the four sprinkler heads can be fed water for 30 minutes duration upwards. 

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What are the Average Costs for an Automatic Sprinkler System?

The price of installation for an automatic sprinkler system varies from property to property; whether you’re looking to protect a house or a commercial building, it all depends on the size of your property, the system you need and the installation company that you turn to. First of all, you need to determine how many sprinkler heads you need. You usually get charged per sprinkler head, plus the overall infrastructure, pipework and valve sets.

The infrastructure of the sprinkler systems can cost anything from £2,500 for a small house to £60,000 to £150,000 for a high rise development plus £180 per sprinkler head, but this can differ from company to company. To receive a quote, or for more information, please give us a call on 01892 680 090, or you can fill out our online form.

Mist system was a great solution for our renovation needs and them team at RAD have been great. Always communicated clearly and been on hand to discuss over the phone as needed. Would highly recommend!
09:32 17 Jul 22
I have used RAD for a couple of projects and found them to be good to deal with. They did a pair of 3 storey open plan houses and seven three and four story town houses. The sprinklers were to improve fire safety, allow more flexible space and comply with building regulations. The sprinklers were far more cost effective than the mist type systems and look very discrete when installed.
Paul Jeary
15:50 11 Jul 22
It has been a pleasure to deal with RAD for installation of fire sprinklers at our site is Sevenoaks. They were fast, professional, working to time and quote, which made it easy to work with them.
Katrina Horobin
12:03 29 Jun 22
My requirement was a bit unusual for RAD in that I wanted a mist system in one room of a rented house. I had no drawings or technical back up. RAD were very helpful and repositioned the unit after the initial installation. Luckily with the help of Sonny, the engineer it all worked out very well.
Simon Gurney
16:16 12 May 22
I have used RAD for the last 10 years for all of my housing developments in need of a sprinkler system. Easy process from start to finish and no issues or problems throughout. Always someone at hand to answer a querie and we have a great working relationship with the team at RAD. Would highly recommend.
15:33 12 May 22
Diligent & a very professional team. A joy to deal with. Will certainly be calling on them to help with many more future schemes.
Jason Tema
22:17 08 Jul 19
Great team, fitting sprinklers, saving lives & property... What more could you wish for!!!
Colin P
17:53 01 Jul 17
Excellent company & great service... This company rocks! They sprinkle fires & save lives!!!
Music N Videoz
07:15 16 Dec 16
As somebody who feels that it should be a necessity for all properties to have fire sprinkler systems, I am a big fan of this company. I have used them numerous times to service my home system and they are very knowledgeable. I would highly recommend their service.
Kate Fraser
09:25 30 Mar 15
One look at Rad Fire Sprinkler's website will tell you that these guys know exactly what they are talking about when it comes to Fire Sprinklers and the legislation surrounding fire safety. A very trustworthy company.
Adam Hudson
16:45 15 Nov 13

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RAD Fire Sprinklers Ltd.
58A St John’s Road
Tunbridge Wells, TN4 9NY

Mon – Fri: 8AM – 5PM

Tel: 01892 680 090

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